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You may recognise Taiwanese celebrity Linda Liao as a singer, MTV VJ and actress but professional gamer? This beautiful lady does it all, it seems. She is a reigning champion in StarCraft II and one of the top guns in Asia. Men's Health goes 1v1 against the Gaming Queen of Taiwan.
As it turns out, Linda has always been an avid gamer. She played her first game on the Commodore 64 system and that kickstarted her interest in it. "I love all sorts of games. I was really devoted to Diablo when I was in school and handheld game consoles are essential when I travel. I think I still have the very first edition of GameBoy and Game Gear lying around in my storage room. Casual app games relax me too, I've been cracking up playing "Ah Pah!" lately." If you're wondering, yes, Diablo 3 is at the top of her waiting list, just like the rest of us.
Linda's been gaming competitively for the past 10 years since StarCraft I, she says, and recently, Pikachu - as she's known in gaming circles - was crowned the Electronic Sports League (ESL) Female StarCraft II Cup champion. She defeated 30 players from other countries to claim that throne. Not surprising, considering that she is a Diamond-ranked number 1 player in Asia. Linda explains that Starcraft II has five leagues - bronze, silver, gold, platinum and diamond. Each league represents a percentage of the population based on their skill ratings so what that all means is if you decide to challenge her on battle.net, she's going to frag your sorry butt. But we can bet that the pain of defeat will be tempered by the fact that you lost to one of the hottest women around.
Pikachu's progress has not been unnoticed. Razer, renowned gaming peripheral manufacturer, signed her up to their stable of professional gamers. It was an easy decision for Linda, she admits. "I have always had a thing for Razer's products so when I was offered the opportunity, it was a no-brainer. Having met and worked with some of the members from the Razer family just reassured that it was the best decision ever made."
How has it been so far? "The experience so far has been great!" Linda says. "It's definitely more fun than anything else. The only problem I have is the lack of time since there are so many things going on in my life. I usually game before work and have to rush out every time because I don't stop till the last minute." But she proves her passion for gaming goes deep, even if it means forgoing sleep, "I game when I get home even if it's midnight and I have to wake up early the next day. I just sleep less! Heck, it's so worth it!"
Pikachu, if we could, we would all choose you.
"I was really into Pokemon and other anime and Pikachu was one of my favourite characters. So, I picked it as my nickname in StarCraft I and naturally used the same nick in StarCraft II."
Being noticed online
"I do get a lot of attention on battle.net and I usually just tell my allies to focus on the game because I want to win. I guess the only way to approach me is by sending me messages, but I get into games the minute I log on and just start gaming so I usually don't have the time to respond to them. I talk strategies with people on battle.net, not random chit chats."
(But that hasn't stopped some guys from trying)
"There was this one time my ally recognised who I was and started to spell my name with pylons (a game element in StarCraft). I tried to spell "LOL" back with pylons, too, but it was the end of the game. That did put a smile on my face, though."
Can gaming help couples spend quality time together?
"I believe so. A relationship to me is really about two people sharing one life, and gaming is definitely a big part of my life. I'd recommend that the guy go easy on the girl and don't get too competitive! At the end of the day, it's just a game, meaning it should be fun and entertaining, so don't get carried away!"
Coaxing non-gaming girlfriends to take an interest
"I think gaming IS for everyone, be it heavier games like CounterStrike or RTS (Real-Time Strategy) games like StarCraft, or even light games on handheld consoles and mobile games like Angry Bird. Being in a relationship, finding an interest in common is very important and it goes both ways. So if the guy enjoys gaming so much, (the girl should) try to find interest in it. Guys should do the same for their girlfriends by spending time on their interests. Finding a balance is key!"